The Arizona Association for Economic Development (AAED) presented 11 Golden Prospector Awards and 11 Awards of Merit to recognize excellence, innovation, and creativity in economic development at its annual Fall Forum held last week in Flagstaff. The Golden Prospector Awards were established more than 20 years ago to recognize excellence in economic development. The 2023 Golden Prospector Awards were graciously sponsored by Alston Construction. Awards were presented in the following categories:

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Economic Development Deal of the Year Golden Prospector Awards

The 2023 Golden Prospector for the Deal of the Year was awarded to Pima County for the “Pima County and American Battery Factory – A Generational Win for Southern AZ.” The deal resulted from a partnership between Pima County, the City of Tucson, Sun Corridor, Inc., several utility and academic partners, and American Battery Factory (ABF), resulting in a successful economic development project built around an innovative lease- purchase agreement and local financial incentives. The project will be the global headquarters for ABF’s planned nationwide network of battery manufacturing facilities, or giga-factories. It was negotiated in only 90 days, is expected to result in 1,000 new jobs, and will create an economic impact of $3.1 billion in Pima County over the next decade. Pima County recently celebrated the groundbreaking of ABF’s facility on October 26, 2023.

Economic Development Program Golden Prospector Awards

  • The City of Buckeye received a Golden Prospector for its Reduce the Commute Job Fair, an innovative and impactful initiative to address pressing workforce development challenges facing the region by connecting businesses with qualified workers. The job fair resulted in significant cost savings in the city and region, with more than 100 people employed, preventing hundreds of hours commuting outside of Buckeye.
  • The Town of Camp Verde received a Golden Prospector for “Unlocking Prosperity and Innovation – The BRIC Success Story,” a program aimed at fostering entrepreneurial empowerment and economic growth. Since BRIC’s grand opening, more than 300 people have received assistance through classes, partnerships, and training.

Special Event Golden Prospector Awards

  • The Greater Phoenix Economic Council received a Golden Prospector for the 2023 Taiwan Semiconductor Delegation, an initiative that brought in 52 Taiwanese businesspeople from 31 companies in the semiconductor sector to showcase the Greater Phoenix advanced manufacturing ecosystem, labor pipeline, and community assets.
  • Pinal County also received a Golden Prospector for its “2022: Arizona’s New Manufacturing Region” event. This event was launched in collaboration with the Phoenix Business Journal and informed key decision-makers about the opportunities for growth in Pinal County.

Multimedia Promotion Golden Prospector Awards

  • The City of Buckeye was awarded a Golden Prospector for the Buckeye’s Water Management promotion, a video and brochure campaign dedicated to informing the public about the secure water supply in the city. The video has had 5,000+ views totaling more than 50 hours of view time, while the brochure was distributed to 41,672 households and has resulted in 6,105 hits to the Water Resources website.
  • Pinal received a Golden Prospector for its Pinal County Workforce Recruitment video campaign, designed to support the workforce needs of local businesses in Pinal County. The video highlights the “Live, Work, and Play” aspects of the area, showing current and future job opportunities, and quality of life including affordable housing, entertainment, and recreation opportunities.

Website Golden Prospector Awards

  • The City of Avondale received the Golden Prospector for “Discover Your Digital EDGE,” a game-changing website overhaul focused on improving the balance of content, clarity of information, and making visuals more appealing. The website is engaging, while utilizing AI and automation to make the website even more accessible.

Marketing Brochure Golden Prospector Awards

  • Arizona State University’s Economic Development Office received a Golden Prospector for its ASU Innovation Zones brochure which highlights the entire portfolio and scope of ASU’s Innovation Zones (a huge endeavor!), homes in on the value and opportunities of each zone, and embodies the work of ASU Economic Development.
  • Pima County also received a Golden Prospector for its Aerospace Research Campus (ARC) brochure redesign which showcases Pima County’s most valuable and easily developable property. The updated brochure provides a more comprehensive and detailed view of the location, amount of land available, infrastructure, and planned upgrades while also improving the narrative.
  • The Town of Queen Creek received a Golden Prospector for its industrial brochure, available in both English and in Korean. This first-ever industrial site brochure created a unique, pocket-sized brochure for site selectors and developers at trade shows and conferences.

Golden Prospector Awards of Merit

The City of Mesa received a Deal of the Year Award of Merit for Boeing’s Advanced Composite Fabrication Center. The project showcases strong regional cooperation between Boeing and the City of Mesa, leading to significant economic impacts, job creation, and potential wage growth in the community.

ALocal Solutions received an Economic Development Program Award of Merit for its Tonto Apache Tribe program, a plan to connect parcels on the east and west side of A-87 while investing in pedestrian safety, traffic calming, and efficiency improvements.

The City of Tucson also received an Economic Development Program Award of Merit for the AZ Stitch Lab, a free workforce development program to address the skill gap in industrial sewing trade in collaboration with the Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Moonshot, and Sonoran Stitch Factory.

The City of Scottsdale received a Special Event Award of Merit for their Super Season Site Selection event designed to create deep connections with a group of site selectors using the Waste Management Open and Super Bowl LVII.

The City of Scottsdale received a Multimedia Promotion Award of Merit for the “All Day. Every Day.” video campaign. Scottsdale partnered with local business leaders to showcase the benefits of relocating a business or career to the city.

Speedie & Associates received a Multimedia Promotion Award of Merit for the imaginative “Speedie in Wonderland” campaign. The campaign aimed to connect with readers through an unconventional and humorous message to enhance brand recognition and awareness of Speedie as a leading geotechnical firm.

The City of Flagstaff received a Website Award of Merit for the redesigned Choose Flagstaff website. The project focused on overhauling of the website’s structure and functionality, aesthetic, and ability to showcase new media and announcements.

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) received a Website Award of Merit for their Greater Phoenix industry pages. The new page design offers a lead generation intake form and seamlessly outlines the core buckets and data snippets included in the use case documents.

The Town of Queen Creek received a Website Award of Merit for the Town of Queen Creek industrial website. The project has been highly successful in advertising the Town of Queen Creek industrial sites to potential users and is now the second most visited page on

The City of Surprise received a Marketing Brochure Award of Merit for their children’s book, TheSurprisestein Bears Start a Business. The book gives residents a glimpse into small business development and support and how the Surprise Economic Development team is an asset to small business owners.

The City of Tempe received a Marketing Brochure Award of Merit for their Mill Ave brochure, which aimed to emphasize Downtown Tempe as not only a hub for students but a thriving business district with world-class enterprises, a substantial workforce, and access to exceptional amenities.